In an email to the students, staff, and faculty of Illinois Tech, President Alan Cramb has officially announced that Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services (a subsidiary of British foodservice company Compass Group) has been selected as the university’s new residential, retail, and catering food service provider, effective summer 2018. Although it is far too early to say how this decision will be regarded by the general Illinois Tech body, early observations seem to indicate a favorable response from students.
Both within the announcement email and at the President and Provost Forum on Friday, April 6, the selection process that was used to eventually select Chartwells was explained in more detail; this committee was led by Vice President for Finance and Administration Michael Horan, Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Katherine Stetz, and Vice President for Administration Bruce Watts. At the forum, Horan was present, and he explained how the process that eventually led to the selection of Chartwells included criteria such as the amount of investment that will be put into capital for the university and the overall capability of the company to make such investments. He also described how student feedback to the public presentations played a very strong role in the decision, alongside interviews with the Chartwells management team. Horan concluded by stating that in the coming weeks, more tangible updates will be provided to the student body as meetings between university administration and Chartwells officials will yield actionable plans. While few concrete details on changes to be expected are available at the time of this writing, Horan promised that they will be made available soon.
President Cramb’s email and Chartwells’ presentation back in January of this year both promised a significant amount of capital investments in the university’s dining program and infrastructure, with Cramb’s email promising a “restaurant-quality and culinary-driven dining program with a focus on delicious, nutritious ingredients and wellness.” These promises are consistent with Chartwells’ own promise of focusing on “people, cuisine, community, culture, and ideas.”
Backing up these broad claims, both the email and the original presentation discussed a variety of brands to be brought onto campus, including Moe’s Southwest Grill, Saffron Indian and Halal foods, Asiana Cuisine and Tea House, and Do-Rite Donuts. In addition, online pre-ordering, student voting, and a Teaching Kitchen designed to integrate culinary and nutrition literacy. Once again, more concrete details on how these brands will be integrated (and under what time frame) will be made available in the coming weeks.
A final note in President Cramb’s email was made regarding the current Sodexo employees at Illinois Tech in which he stated that “all existing Sodexo employees will be asked to remain in their positions, and those who apply for employment will retain their current pay rates. I would like to thank Sodexo for its years of service and partnership.”